Eternal Warrior #23: Hellbilly Deluxe

Back when I did my Journey into Nyx set review, one of the cards I was excited to try out was Master of the Feast. After all, a black creature at the 3-cmc slot with evasion and great stats is just begging to be paired with Dark Ritual. There’s very little flying in the format right now, allowing the gluttonous demon to sail right over the head of True-Name Nemesis and smack the opponent around unless they have an answer.

The question was what to do about its drawback. Mono-Black Aggro has always relied upon black’s powerful discard spells to disrupt the opponent, so it seems peculiarly counter-productive to give the opponent a card every turn. I considered several alternatives. I could go heavy on land destruction and try to deny my opponent the ability to leverage his card advantage into board advantage. I could also try to go bigger on mana and shoot for a Nether Void lock. Or maybe I could build around the drawback to punish the opponent for drawing additional cards?

In the end, I decided I was blowing the drawback out of proportion. Early discard spells will still de-rail an opponent’s plan, and the card I name with Cabal Therapy is usually better than a random card off the top.

I decided to stick pretty close to the traditional curve of mono-black aggro decks. I like the interaction of Gravecrawler with Cabal Therapy and Liliana of the Veil, so I decided to load up on a sufficient number of Zombies to fill out the curve.

Dark Ritual is a very swingy card when used in “fair” decks, and can lead to some very explosive starts. You can dump a bunch of guys on the field early, play a couple disruption spells, or just power out one big threat like Lily or the Master of the Feast.

Another possible way to go would be to cut the Zombie theme altogether, and instead start with a conventional midrange shell of Deathrite Shaman and Dark Confidant. Even in mono-black, DRS is a fine Llanowar Elves surrogate if you load up on fetchlands, and could help cast some of the deck’s 3 and 4 mana spells in the absence of a ritual. You can even splash green for a few Abrupt Decay, but you don’t want to go too far down that road if you want the Dark Rituals to remain a central focus of the deck’s plan.

Casting rituals for explosive turns is undoubtedly the most fun aspect of playing mono-black aggro. The archetype has its weaknesses, but while it isn’t top tier, it is fairly competitive thanks to the ample hand disruption.

Check out our selection of Journey into Nyx cards!

The videos this week feature a diverse range of matchups, from control to aggro to combo. First up is a very long match against Pox. The second video features Ravager Affinity. Both of those decks are somewhat more common online than in paper, and are decent matchups to know for that metagame. The videos conclude with two tight matches against Ad Nauseum Tendrils, a storm combo deck.

I hope you enjoy the videos, and I’ll see you next time!


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